Film Row Hopes to Offer a Bite With Some Industry Insight

Film Row a new mentorship initiative - Publicity -EMBED 2019
Courtesy of Film Row

"It's always a challenge to get people to break away," jokes Film Row's Melanie Valera of ensuring that assistants can leave their desks for Lunch & Learn events. 

A new initiative affiliated with the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation gives assistants face time with top execs.

While the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation has been assisting veterans of the entertainment industry for decades, a new affiliate initiative is turning its focus on Hollywood's up-and-coming professionals. Officially launched in March, Film Row aims to foster a new group of industry leaders.

"We hope to achieve our goal by providing education opportunities," says Melanie Valera, Paramount vp theatrical sales and Film Row president. The group's first enterprise, Lunch & Learn, is a bimonthly event in which assistants and other lower-level professionals partake in a conversation with industry leaders over a catered meal.

The inaugural Lunch & Learn guest speaker was Paramount president of domestic distribution Kyle Davies, while Dave Neustadter, executive vp production at New Line Cinema, was in conversation with Warner Bros. president of distribution Jeff Goldstein for the lunchtime event in July.

"I hate to say it this way, but hearing the 'old' stories from the 'old' times seemed far more interesting to them than I thought it would be," says Davies, who also serves as the current volunteer president of the parent foundation.

Additionally, 30 ambassadors from across the industry have been dispatched to recruit up-and-comers, with a Film Row mentorship program in the works.

Adds Valera, "As I explained to a lot of executives, if we empower our film community, our business will thrive."

More information on Film Row can be found here.

This story first appeared in the Sept. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.